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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An exploratory study of the information needs and behavior of graduate students of management sciences at the Centre for Operations Excellence, Faculty of Commerce, University of British Columbia Sheth, Jessica M.

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to provide insights into the information seeking behaviors and needs of graduate students of Management Sciences at the Centre for Operations Excellence, University of British Columbia. The study describes major aspects of the information seeking patterns taking into account the whole phenomena: from the nature of the original situation where and when the need was recognized, to the characteristics of the information seeker, to the providers which were consulted and degrees of success. Using the case-study method and the sense-making approach, data were gathered through logs, interviews, and a questionnaire. Verbal protocols helped to delve and probe into the qualitative aspects of the search behavior resulting in a model for the search process. Findings revealed that the students went through six stages during their research: [1] Task defining, [2] Focus forming, [3] Monitoring and reviewing, [4] Selecting and sieving, [5] Interpreting, and [6] Presenting. Typically, information seeking occurred in context of task achievement which was affected by various factors such as time, cost, prior knowledge, feedback, motivation and experience and perception of students. A user survey demonstrated that [1] informal channels were used more avidly in information seeking than formal channels, [2] information service providers were not consulted on a regular basis, [3] UBC libraries were very rarely used, [4] factors such as time, location, motivation, cost, perception, feedback played an integral role in information seeking and task completion, [5] satisfaction with services of service provider were based on the relevance, currency, timeliness and accuracy of information provided, and [6] usage of information was weighed against the benefit to analysts. Recommendations for action and further study and a service model were the outcomes of the findings.

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